Do First Impressions Matter?

Women of the world, picture this scenario:

Thumbs up or down after the first date?

You go on a first date with a guy. (I am not this guy. This is a hypothetical guy. Think of the last guy you went on a date with who you didn’t ask for a second date. Okay, maybe I’m that guy.)

He’s nice, funny, smart. He’s kind to the waiter. He doesn’t make you awkward or uncomfortable. He’s cute, and he dresses well. He has his life together.

But you feel no spark. No deeper, intangible connection. You don’t want to leap across the table and straddle him, nor do you want to talk late into the night on your balcony. There’s nothing wrong with him, but you feel no urge to pursue him.

What do you do?

Do you give him a second date? After all, there’s nothing wrong with him. People get nervous on the first date–sure, he seemed comfortable, but maybe you’d get a better sense for that deeper connection if you knew him better and he knew you better. Maybe you should kiss him before you decide if sparks are there or not. Maybe you should have been more flirtatious.

Or do you call it quits? The spark is either there or it’s not there. You’ve been through entire relationships that don’t have that spark–you kept waiting and waiting, but no matter how comfortable you got with the person, your souls never collided. Maybe you and this guy could be good friends, but you already know what your heart is telling you. After all, you want to be really excited about the guy you date, not obligingly going on a second date just because he “deserves” a chance.

I fall into the second category. I’ve gone on a lot of first dates in the past year, and I know after a first date if there’s a deeper connection there, if I’m excited about seeing the person again. And I’ve gone on plenty of second dates (and third…and fourth) where that connection wasn’t there, just because I kept hoping it would show up. I don’t think my heart is dead, because I truly get excited about first dates. The flirtation, the banter, the conversation…I get excited about that stuff.  But if the spark isn’t there, it simply isn’t there.

What do you single people think? And for those of you in successful relationships, was the spark there from the beginning, or did you not realize there was a deeper connection until after you got to know the person?

8 thoughts on “Do First Impressions Matter?”

  1. I’ve been in both spots… I’ve tried to force a spark with my best friend because, after all, he was my best friend… that would be awesome… and the spark never came… and telling him there was no spark was even harder, so it virtually demolished our friendship.

    HOWEVER… I have also been the person that had a lot of lofty expectations and wanted more, more, more from the person I dated. I dumped my husband more times than I can count before I finally committed because he didn’t have passion, or didn’t like the music I liked…. or _____ (fill in the blank).

    Sometimes the person that is best for you is the person that is there when the dust settles. Sometimes one person has all the spark and the other person tempers that. That’s not to say my husband and I didn’t have a spark (boy did we) 🙂 but it is to say that judging the long-term potential based on some “spark” may be short-sighted…

    • Danni–That’s a fair point about the best friend. I think it’s pretty tough to force a spark, but it’s a little different when you’re friends with someone and may not have looked for a spark before.

      I think what it comes down to for me is that someone either excites you or they don’t. To me it’s not really about expectations or some preconceived notion of who the perfect woman is, it’s just some kind of excitement that makes me want to see her again in a romantic way (opposed to just as friends).

  2. If a guy took me to a gladiator fight on a first date, there would not be a second date. In fact, once a guy did take me to one of those Medieval Castle dinner/theatre show things. There was not a second date.

    To more directly answer your question, I agree that first impressions – or more accurately gut instincts – are important. I’ve had first dates that lasted 6 hours because coffee (5 pm) turned into dinner (7 pm) turned into drinks (9 pm) because we had so much to talk about. If I’m struggling just to make it through an hour over coffee – there are other people I should be spending my time with.

    • Ariel–Sorry the Medieval Castle dinner date didn’t work out. I don’t see how it couldn’t have worked. Must have been an anomaly.

      “Gut instincts” is a good way to put it.

  3. I can’t believe you people voting would give someone a second chance if there isn’t a certain something about them. Call it quits, if there is no spark then there is no need to waste more time and money on the person. There are oodles of other people in the world. Even if you are both nervous on a first date, there would still be a spark if that person was someone for you. Say “it’s been a pleasure hanging out with you, but I think we are looking for different things” and move on.

  4. I had this dilemma a few weeks ago. I had a very enjoyable first date with a guy, but didn’t really feel any spectacular fireworks or anything. I went back and forth about whether or not I should accept his offer of a second date. In the end, I decided to accept. Even though the second date confirmed there was no spark, I’m really glad I went on it. I think I would have regretted not giving it another chance.
    I usually go on a second date just to make sure I have no regrets. This is only true though if the guy is nice and normal. Sometimes there is just no chance of a second date (for example, the date I went on last night…)

    • AS and Emily–Both of you offer interesting perspectives on this…I’m finding that I agree with both of you, even though you’re saying different things. Although I have to admit that I kind of like Emily’s strategy–give the spark one other chance (opposed to unlimited other chances) to make an appearance.

      I have a friend who used to have a three-date rule (now she’s married). She’d go on three dates with any guy who didn’t completely creep her out (sounds like that happened to you last night, Emily!) Her idea was that she could make an informed choice about someone with no regrets after three dates. Although that seems like a lot to me if there’s absolutely no spark on the first date, I can compromise and consider two dates instead.

  5. Great topic!!

    If I am on a first date and I feel the spark I ask for a second date. That second date will either confirm the spark or deny that the spark is there. For me I can tell by the second date for sure. If I am on a first date and I don’t feel the spark and the guy isn’t a creep I have a check list to determine if a second date is warranted. If there are certain characteristic that I like about a guy but the spark isn’t there I have the second date to determine if maybe he was nervous or maybe one of us was having an off day or something like that. Sometimes it works out that I feel that spark on the second date and other times I just don’t feel it.

    I am also wondering if you can have two different types of sparks. Can you have a physical spark toward someone but not have the emotional spark and vice versa? I am having a hard time defining what I really mean when I say emotional spark. I think of it as that higher level connection; personality, intellectual, emotional. Personally I think I can have an emotional spark but not have that physical spark. I don’t think you can have a physical spark without some time of emotional spark. Does anyone agree or understand what I’m referring to?

    Here is a situation that I can’t seem to figure out and would like some input. Sorry Jamey I feel like I am high jacking your blog. 🙂 I don’t mean to but it goes along the same lines as your post.

    I met a guy online. We chatted for a while and he didn’t feel a spark at all during our correspondence. To make a long story short we had a first date anyway. I felt both physical and an emotional spark. He still said he didn’t feel a spark at all. We continued correspondence and I think we became friends. We hung out again and now he feels that physical spark. He continues to want me physically but does not want to date me or anything like that. Now I would date him with no hesitation. I really like him a lot; I think we have a lot in common, and that we challenge each other on my different levels. My question is, can you have that physical spark and develop the emotional spark over time? Can you have that physical spark without any type of emotional spark? Do you think I would be the person that Danni refers to as that person after the dust settles?


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